Groundwork being laid to tighten electoral system – Attorney General
The Attorney General Chambers has commenced the groundwork for the strengthening of the country’s electoral system, which will close major loopholes in the process.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Hon. Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, said a small unit has already been set up within the drafting department to gather the requisite pieces of legislation for the review.
Following the events of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, the PPP/C had vowed that radical changes would be made to tighten the gaps in the electoral system.
“The world called upon us, Guyana called upon us and we promised that when we got into government, we would do wide ranging reforms at the level of the legislation to ensure that we, as far as possible, bridge the gaps, close the loopholes, strengthen the weaknesses, which the miscreants exploited and nearly succeeded in stealing government,” the AG said during a recent interview on Kaieteur radio.
Government will be seeking changes including establishing that Statements of Poll (SOPs) be used as the only basis for the tabulation of results, instead of spreadsheets.
The Administration also wants SOPs to be posted online by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and contesting political parties within 24 hours of receiving them.
“And consequences must flow if they refuse to do so, if they have them in their possession. Additional biometrics, if possible, will be introduced into the law. We have to clarify and clear up whether if you have a cyclical registration system, if you can stop that registration midway and start a house-to-house registration. We also have to clarify the report the CEO (Chief Election Officer) has to produce by law, what that report must contain and we must have to make the language clear so that no CEO can prepare a report of his own,” the AG articulated.
Other actions being sought include laws which state clearly that the invalidity of votes could only be determined through an elections petition, “and that no CEO or political party could determine whether or not a ballot is invalid, outside of the established spoiled vote.”
The reform will also address the laws pertaining to electoral officials. The AG said the law in its current state, targets the electorate. This, he said must be addressed to cater for errant officials.
“That is a fundamental cornerstone of our agenda in government. It is in our interest to protect this democracy,” he stated.
Several high-level officials of GECOM are facing charges before the courts, in what the government said, were attempts to subvert the will of the Guyanese people. The former APNU+AFC Government has also been accused of attempts to undermine democracy.